A Glimpse into Climbing with Conifer


Photo provided by Gabe Watson

Photo of Gabe Watson, coach and creator of the climbing club.

     When most people think of outdoor activities, they think of hiking, camping, or mountain biking. But the lesser-known, hidden gem of outdoor activities is rock climbing. 

     At CHS, one of the activities offered is the climbing club. Even if students have been rock climbing their whole lives or have never even climbed once, the climbing club is an incredible outlet for students to get outdoors and climb. 

     “It is just an awesome opportunity to be able to get outside and enjoy something that I love doing,” Senior Caedon Kelly said. 

     Kelly has been involved in climbing for about a year and he learned to climb on his own. He became interested in climbing and soon after he developed an obsession with the sport. By using videos and watching other people climb, Kelly learned the art and technique of climbing. Even though Kelly has gained many skills and techniques over the past year, he believes that the club is still a great way to expand his abilities. 

     “What I am really looking forward to is how I can advance my art,” Kelly said, “I definitely feel that climbing is an art, and to be able to learn how to control the mind as well as to control your physical state and improve it, that is what really intrigues me.” 

     The climbing club is the perfect place for that. It gives the opportunity for students to learn and improve a huge variety of climbing skills and carry that with them later in life. The coach of the climbing club, Gabe Watson, created it for that reason.

     “My big goal is to give the students the tools that they need to be the climber they’re going to be later in life,” Watson said. 

     Watson is one of the ELA teachers at Conifer, and he started the climbing club about 5 years ago. He has been climbing for roughly 10 years and he learned to climb through camps and other people in the community. Watson thinks that climbing is a really great sport for your entire life and anyone, no matter how old or young, can enjoy climbing. The climbing community is really friendly and open and it’s a great way to meet new people throughout life. Climbing can help people explore and discover nature, as well as enjoy and connect with the outdoors. Watson believes that with the right attitude anyone can become a climber. 

     “I think that the club is a super awesome opportunity for people who have never even climbed before to come in and see some people who have experience and also to be with people who don’t have experience,” Senior Camille Deranleau said. 

     Deranleau has been climbing for her entire life and her whole family is involved in it. She has traveled around the country on climbing trips and is pretty skilled when it comes to climbing. But she believes that the climbing club will be really fun and she thinks it is a great way to learn more types of climbing and techniques.

    “The climbing club honestly just sounds fun,” Deranleau said, “Also it’s an opportunity to learn how to lead climb, which is not something I know how to do yet, so I am super excited for that.” 

     The climbing club meets at least once a week, or whenever they have a good opportunity to climb. Conifer is one of the greatest places to rock climb and the club usually meets right in Conifer at Staunton State Park or at Clear Creek to climb. On the days when outdoor climbing doesn’t work out, the club also gathers at the Earth Treks climbing gyms in Golden and Englewood. 

     “The great thing about Colorado and living in the mountains is that we have rocks right outside in our backyard,” Kelly said. 

     With a climbing club and rocks right in our backyard, it is never too late for students to start climbing. Any student who is interested in climbing and puts their mind to it can learn to climb. 

     “Climbing is for anyone,” Kelly said, “What I loved about climbing was that it allowed me to find a purpose, and I feel like that for a lot of kids who struggle finding what they want to do, this is the perfect opportunity to get out there and try something new.” 

     Climbing may be the thing that any student is searching for, and even if it is not, it is still an incredible opportunity to expand horizons and truly appreciate the outdoors. 

     “Now is the time,” Watson said, “So take advantage of the opportunities that you have.”